As the need for sustainable living grows, forward-thinking property developers are designing homes with designated garden spaces with the idea that more and more homeowners will want the ability to grow their own food. For example, Heuer Court, a new apartment block development in Stellenbosch marketed by RE/MAX Helderberg, has a hydroponic rooftop garden that allows residents to grab their pick of the day from their very own roof top organic grocery.    

According to Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, this trend will continue to grow as the demand for sustainable living increases. “I predict that over time, homes with sustainable features, such as fully developed and well-maintained vegetable gardens, will add to the appeal of the home and will add value to the property should a homeowner decide to sell,” he says.

Even for those who have no intention of selling, Goslett notes the potential savings homeowners stand to make from growing their own vegetables. “There are many good reasons why homeowners should grow their own vegetable gardens at home – the most important of which is that it will lower one’s impact on the environment.”

It may seem overwhelming at first, but with proper planning and research, homeowners will be able to walk into their backyard for all their homegrown produce. To help homeowners get started, RE/MAX of Southern African provides some tips to help grow a vegetable garden at home:

What to grow and where to grow it

Homeowners would have to think about the space they have available for gardening, as the location of the garden is vital to its success. Homeowners should also decide which vegetables they intend to grow and how much time they can dedicate to the garden. Homeowners with minimal space might have to consider container gardening – which is growing produce exclusively in containers instead of planting them in the ground. An advantage to this type of gardening is that the garden can be moved at any time and will require less water and save costs. Unfortunately, it will limit the amount of produce a homeowner can cultivate.  

The location of the garden will be determined by the size of the garden and watering requirements. Homeowners should consider where the garden will get the most sunlight as most vegetables require a good eight hours of sun to reach optimal growth. Vegetables also need a lot of water. Homeowners who are worried about their water bill might want to consider installing a greywater system.

Get the right tools

Gardening can be hard work, so there is no need to make it harder than it should be by having low-quality tools. Invest in good quality gardening tools – it pays to do proper research on what tools are essential and long-lasting. Some of the essentials include a trowel, pruning shears, watering can, garden rake, and an angled shovel.

Test and prepare the soil

The golden key to gardening heaty and wholesome vegetables is having deep, organically rich soil. Well-prepared soil encourages vegetables to grow, which is why homeowners need to analyse the soil before starting a vegetable garden. A good place to start is by determining the pH level of the soil. Once homeowners know the condition of the soil, it will need to be cultivated by adding fertilizer and topsoil and then turning it around with a shovel. The soil will then need to sit for a couple of days before homeowners can start planting their desired vegetables. 

As a final word of advice, Goslett suggests that homeowners who are new to gardening should think small in the beginning. “Gardening requires a lot of maintenance and can become overwhelming. Homeowners should start by planning for a garden they know they will be able to control. They should also treat the garden as an investment, because a well-looked after garden can increase the appeal of the house should they decide to sell,” he concludes.